SUN Hockey Pool

Streaky and freaky

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

It's no way to play a season. The Edmonton Oilers know that.

You can't survive on shootouts, hoping that unconscious winning percentage of yours holds up, letting the team you just beat walk away with a point every night.

The Oilers, winners of just six regulation games all year, get it.

Watching their streak of seven shootout wins in a row come to an end Tuesday against Dallas caught everyone's attention.

"We've had our luck in the shootouts but we also know that it could have very easily gone the other way, too," said Jarret Stoll, adding no team wants 12 of its first 35 games coming down to penalty shots.

"You have a .500 shootout record and we're not sitting as well as we are right now."

Indeed. If the Oilers were 6-6 instead of 12-2, they'd have been sitting in 14th instead of ninth yesterday morning.

"You know those numbers are not going to continue at that percentage and you're going to lose some of them if you keep putting yourself in that position," said head coach Craig MacTavish, whose club has only posted regulation wins over Philadelphia, Phoenix, Calgary, Columbus, and Anaheim, twice.

"It would be nice to have more regulation wins because when you do get to overtime you're giving the oppostion a point, but it's not like our objective is to get it to a shootout. We're trying to win in regulation."

In the meantime, he's not going to micro analyze the way they're earning points, especially after they scored just twice in the last 130 minutes of regulation.

"We played a couple of tough teams (Vancouver and Dallas) and I'm pretty happy with the results," said MacTavish. "It's not very often you get two goals in two games and get three points out of four."

But the loss to Dallas, in which Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff were all blanked, raises the question: does this mark the end of Edmonton's magical shootout run, or was it a hiccup?

"I don't know -- time will tell," said MacTavish "It's just a little eerie that you go to a shootout every game."

Gagner, whose shootout dekes made all the highlight reels early on, has run into a dry spell. He's missed his last four, and went with a shot instead of a juke against Dallas.

"I don't want to let the goalie get a read on what I'm doing, I like to mix it up as much as possible," he said.

"The shot was there. If I hit my spot it's in the net. I still feel pretty confident going in.

"Obviously I haven't scored the last three or four, but everybody goes through dry spells like that. It's something I have to continue to work through and continue to practise."


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